Line Ticking in the Back or Fish Jumping?

by Rene J. Hesse

Perfectly calm day, no wind, new fly rod. Fish keep smacking the water behind me. Really?

This happened to me today, and I had to see if it was my back cast ticking the water or a fish. So I had to make a few more long casts, and no more fish jumping. Then they were there again a few casts later. I made it a point to watch my back cast go slightly up and out, turned to look at my target and ‘tick’. What?

Here is my conclusion and solution to the line ticking on the water behind me. I was fine on my false casts, slipping line into my back cast. As you know, with line extending we have to wait a little longer. The trajectory of the back cast was slightly up which was ok for the shorter false casts, and the loops were medium. But as I shot my line into the final back cast, a few things changed.

The trouble with a tick is you don’t see it. You are looking forward when it happens because it happens so late in the forward cast. You will hear it, so hopefully you can correct it, but you will not see it. It really helps to have someone watch the cast. It doesn’t have to be a certified casting instructor to say ‘Hey, you did it again.’ But it will help to have an instructor coach you up on how to correct it.
It is a combination of things that cause ticking. Combine these tweaks to correct the tick.

  1. Keep sending the line ‘up and out’ off your rod tip. That gives it a little time while falling a little.
  2. Increase your line speed. What’s the best way to do that? Haul.
  3. Tighten up your loops. Don’t break your wrist on the back cast. The distance your rod tip goes below the oncoming line will determine the size of the loop.
  4. Start your forward cast a little earlier. Don’t rotate early. Just move your hand and rod butt toward the target

These little tips can stop the ticks. I hope the fish are jumping behind you.